It’s the moment in most adults’ lives where the story behind their career really begins to unfold — the internship.
For many, an internship is more than just additional education or bullet points on a resume. It’s life changing. And when it comes to an impeccable experience of furthering who you are and where you want to go on your path, West Virginia sets the bar with their internships with the Division of Forestry.
You don’t have to take our word for it. We just spent the summer with four remarkable men and women at the WVDOF. They all come from different educational backgrounds, different parts of our region, but have similar experiences in finding something deeper and inspiring in their internships.
JJ Reese is from Kingswood, West Virginia. He says he’s always wanted to be a forester and when he saw an internship spot open he knew he had to have it.
“I have always loved the outdoors,” Reese said. “There aren’t many jobs where you can be outside more than a forester is.”
Reese says overall his experience was more than he expected and he’s surprised and grateful for the opportunities that came with his position.
“I’m working in classes to become a wildland firefighter and I just finished my certification to teach Project Learning Tree classes,” Reese said. “I have learned so many things with this position including communicating with people and even some computer skills.”
Reese says he spent most of his time learning about logging and how to be a logging inspector, while he says he enjoyed it, it still wasn’t his favorite part.
“My favorite part was meeting new people,” Reese said. “My coworkers are the friendliest people I have ever met and it’s amazing to see how willing they are to help each other out. I also enjoyed meeting landowners, loggers, and other clients, too.”
Dayton, Ohio native James Johnson is working towards his bachelor’s degree in Forest Resources management at West Virginia University in Morgantown. He said he wanted to know more about the Division of Forestry and that’s why he made the decision to apply for an internship.
While Johnson spent the majority of his time working on a farm tending to the care, maintenance, and documentation of tree saplings, there’s a myriad of other jobs and activities he was tasked with that left a lasting impact.
“I’ve also spent time fixing vehicles, building signs, and I even had the chance to be Smokey the Bear on several occasions,” Johnson said.
Johnson says his internship helped him gain a better understanding of how the Division of Forestry works.
“There’s more to it than just measuring trees and selling timber,” Johnson said. “There’s the cooperation between the individual and the foresters as well as the individual regions and agencies. I now have a better look at the broader picture of the DOF and how it operates on a daily basis, from stewardship plans to tree health and assistance for landowners, to fire suppression.”
While Johnson takes back a plethora of new skills sets and effective career training, he says it’s the relationships he gained that mean the most to take home with him.
“My favorite part was the people I worked with,” Johnson said. “I worked mostly with Mike Boyce and his style of teaching and the advice he gave made it easy to understand how to be an effective forester, not only for landowners, but for the Division. Rudy Williams, Erin Shaw, Dan Cooley, and Rodger Ozburn, were all incredibly helpful and fun to work with.”
Kaitlyn Deskins, originally from Indiana, has spent the last two years in Morgantown working on her master’s degree in Forestry. She sought out a position as an intern and has a goal to work for the DOF full-time in the future.
Deskins main project was to work with Camp Pioneer in Beverly to make tree I.D. signs for their train.
“This was perfect for me,” Deskins said. “I hadn’t had a dendrology class and wanted to add more trees that I can I.D. to my memory.”
Deskins didn’t stop there. She also checked log jobs with other foresters, filed documents, and went to conservation camp where she got to teach about forest products.
“I have worked with a lot of foresters since I moved here and working with them makes me feel like I am at home,” Deskins said. “They teach me so many things not only forestry but life skills as well. Before this, I never used a chainsaw, and Johnny King and Jack Spencer not only taught me chainsaw safety but let me practice and learn, as well.
Della Moreland is from Augusta in Hampshire County and she’s studying Wildlife Management and Forest Technology at Glenville State University.
Moreland says she was able to work with several county foresters in the region which include those who work on logging inspections, personal property inspections, public outreach events, and conservations programs.
“I have learned more about the various work that DOF employees and foresters are responsible for,” Moreland said. “Foresters are responsible for regularly checking logging jobs and ensuring that loggers are abiding by the set regulations and procedures.”
Moreland also spent time learning how to properly diagnose a sick or dying tree, as well as, potential pathogens and diseases and the treatments that might be needed. She says she learned more about the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program and landowner assistance. But one of the programs that grew on Moreland the most is The Big Tree Program.
“My favorite part was probably seeing how the foresters worked and coordinated with loggers, landowners, and other individuals,” Moreland said. “I also liked to see how the foresters educated many people in varying occupations, backgrounds, and ages. Through the internship, I have seen and learned more about the region and state as a whole.
The state of our nation’s forests determines the state of our nation’s future. Forestry holds an important role in our culture and economy and offers a fulfilling, meaningful career path.
We continue to encourage our youth of today to seek education in forestry conservation, protection and management.
Learn more about our internship program by visiting our website Accredited Forestry Schools.